The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection has a dense blackish/purple color and creamy, sweet crème de cassis fruit, blackberries, a touch of graphite and vanilla, This exuberant, boisterous, in-your-face style of Cabernet Sauvignon is clearly a fruit bomb, so be warned. Full-bodied and opulent with stunning concentration and richness, the wine has no hard edges and is much in the Caymus style of terrific fruit intensity (most of it black and blue), voluptuous texture, and a stunning finish with plenty of glycerin, wood and spice. The alcohol on the label is listed at 14.8%, which seems about accurate. I have Caymus Special Selection in my cellar back to some of the historic wines made by Chuck Wagner’s father in the early 1970s, and while the style’s gotten more precocious and consumer-friendly, these wines, even the more latter-day styles, have a tendency to age beautifully. This can be drunk now, or cellared for 20+ years.
I believe that 2012 may have been a new high water mark for Napa and California, with an ideal season from start to finish. Those conditions also contributed in setting apart this year’s Special Selection. The result is a wine that bears a more significant contrast from our more widely available Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
Over the decades, the Napa landscape has changed as much as the essence of our wines. Napa has become a most beautiful agricultural valley, a manicured garden 30 miles in length, and its Cabernet is one of the world’s most revered wines. Even at Caymus, our approach to producing our top wine has evolved considerably. From the days of me by my Father’s side punching down fermenters with the simple goal of making a good wine that would sell, to today using some of those same techniques with the goal to make a top wine of our Valley. By luck I grew up in the Rutherford farmland with grapes and prunes surrounding our farmhouse. What is Caymus Special Selection? It is simply a blend of the very best lots of wines that we make in a given year. We achieve this by blind tasting wines in December, just at the end of fermentation. Taking into consideration tannins, color, fruit, concentration and flavor we blend and barrel age separately what we think demonstrates the Caymus elegance and what will be bottled as our best wine of the vintage, Special Selection. We do not think lightly of shifting our style of winemaking, but every so often, after much consternation, we do make some slight changes. The Caymus 2012 Special Selection marks such a time. This vintage gave us the opportunity to make wine with added complexity from additional French oak barrel aging (26 months) prior to bottling. Certain lots came through fermentation packing a concentration of the varying Valley soil attributes. In addition to the longer barrel time overall, we placed one-third of the wine in new oak barrels for three weeks, creating an impressive wood component. In the production of the 2012 Special Selection, higher tannin is the single largest departure from the past. The wine is slightly less fruit-driven, with fine textural richness. It has its own presence that we are extremely proud of. TASTING NOTES A deep, dark red, this Special Selection features a nearly assertive and alluring aroma of sweet humidor tobacco. The nose is the result of lovely French oak and ripe, high-quality Cabernet, with a singular quality that awakens the senses and demands their attention. The initial impression on the palate is a fine and abundant textural feel ─ sweet and tacky at the tip of the tongue, then broadening and expanding again and again. This textural richness is layered by the plaque and tack of emulsified Cabernet skins plus a tremendously impressive wood component. This bottling is rich, profound on the palate, with immense fruit quality and the Caymus trademark suppleness.